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Today is my little sister Aida’s birthday. She is busy these days with Siete Foods. I always thought my parents did A-Okay by giving her the “Aida” first name. The only other Aida I have ever encountered was the opera. By the way, Aida is pronounced in three syllables. You know what Aida’s middle name is? Antonietta. Top that! If you run into her in Austin today, wish her a Happy Birthday!

You can check out Siete Family Foods here: https://sietefoods.com/.

Since MLB began using the Wild Card teams in the playoffs in 1994, which MLB club has the most playoff appearances via the Wild Card?

Whenever I meet up with a potential candidate for public office, I always get around to asking she or he some questions like have you ever murdered anyone, hijacked an airliner, recruit for ISIS, kidnapped a member of the royal family, been a member of the Klan or reach over the rail at The Yard and snag a foul ball that was actually a fair ball. You get the picture, the vetting process.   That is why I am a bit surprised that this came out in the Chron yesterday. See here:

AUSTIN — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Lupe Valdez owes more than $12,000 in overdue taxes on seven properties in two counties, taxes that were due just days before she loaned her campaign $20,000 to get it started, official records showed Thursday.

Valdez’s campaign officials acknowledged that she owes taxes on several properties but said she is paying them in monthly installments because she cannot afford to pay the total amounts, which were due at the end of January.

In a statement, she blamed Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott for the fact that Texas property taxes are so high.

“As we’ve been saying all along, under Greg Abbott’s failed leadership, property taxes are unpredictable and burdensome for Texans everywhere, including Sheriff Lupe Valdez,” said campaign spokesman Juan Bautista Dominguez. “Sheriff Valdez has an agreement with the counties to payoff 2017 property taxes and plans to do so entirely in the coming months.”

Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff who won a runoff election Tuesday, has campaigned to close loopholes in the state’s broken property-tax system. Valdez’s campaign said she paid her property taxes late in the past, as well.

“In previous years, she had made similar arrangements,” Dominguez said. “In 2015, for example, Sheriff Valdez had similar arrangements and she fulfilled her agreement with the proper tax authorities.”

The current Dallas County sheriff earns about $175,000 annually. Valdez retired at the end of December 2017.

Dallas tax officials said while they could not confirm an agreement on file, Valdez could be paying the taxes late along with penalties and interest — which records show are included in the amounts she owes.

Online property tax records show Valdez personally owns or has an interest in 15 properties — including her two-story Oak Cliff homestead and several other houses along with several vacant lots — and has not fully paid taxes on six in Dallas County and one in Ellis County.

Here is the entire read: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Records-Valdez-owes-property-taxes-in-two-12942260.php.

My goodness! It is called Campaign Vetting 101.  Didn’t someone say, “by the way, January 31, 2018 is approaching, do you know what is due?” There is no other way to explain this, but somebody dropped the ball in the Valdez camp. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

It is only the lead story in today’s Chron hard copy. I wonder if the Chron found this on their own or was it an oppo effort gift to them?

I wonder why the Andrew White Campaign never looked into this? Maybe they did, and they didn’t want to use it.

My goodness! She hadn’t even been the nominee for two days and this happens.

I am disappointed with this. Commentary is talking about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo getting the endorsement of DNC Chair Tom Perez for his primary reelection. Why does Gov. Cuomo even need this? Here is from Politico:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has said repeatedly that the national party shouldn’t, and won’t, endorse in primaries. But on Thursday, he stood on a Long Island stage and endorsed Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor who is facing a challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon.

The decision to pick favorites in a primary pits the DNC chair against the DNC deputy chair, Keith Ellison. And it has re-opened an ongoing internal fight within the party, while giving critics ammunition to question Perez’s leadership.

The New York race isn’t just any two Democrats fighting for the nomination: Nixon is making her race explicitly about a challenge from the left and the new progressive energy of the party that she says Cuomo is out of sync with. And she’s doing it with the support of many progressives in the state who identified with Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

Here is the entire read: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/24/tom-perez-andrew-cuomo-primary-endorsements-607799.

This was a dumb move for sure by Chair Perez. Why p_ss off a whole bunch of Dem activists? That’s not what we do after our debacle in 2016. Dumb move.

I will put it this way, so folks clearly understand. I respect and like Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. I don’t think much of NFL owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Got it?

The Red Sox of course have been a Wild Card team seven times to lead MLB.

The ‘Stros started off the roadie last night with a win. It was good to see Jake Marisnick put one over the centerfield wall. Nice!

Go Rockets!

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend!

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E-Board Matters

Who is the only hitter to ever hit a walk-off dinger off of Nolan Ryan? Hint: He was in a MLB uniform yesterday at The Yard.

It is no surprise that the Chron E-Board isn’t impressed with our Dem nominee for Governor. Here is what they said about her this morning:

Unfortunately, Democrats don’t have a similarly impressive candidate for governor. Lupe Valdez, the former sheriff of Dallas County, won her party’s nomination despite a stumbling performance on the campaign trail and a strikingly shallow grasp of state government issues. Valdez’s limp responses to some of the issues posed to her during the campaign raise serious questions about whether she’s up to the task. Democrats — and all of Texas — should reflect on the historic moment of a major party for the first time nominating a Latina to our state’s highest office. But that probably won’t be enough to win in November. In a state starved for new ideas and new political leadership, the Texas Democratic Party pretty much just re-elected Gov. Greg Abbott.

Ouch!

Does it matter what the E-Board thinks? Absolutely! Let me explain.

It may not matter throughout the state, but it does matter in Harris County.   Here in Harris County we are poised to build on our successes of 2016. We can put a serious hurt on GOP candidates throughout the ballot. We just need to make sure our candidates up and down the ballot can stand the scrutiny. Like it or not, some voters pay attention to what the E-Board says.

Let’s not forget, Valdez only received 27% in Harris County on Tuesday. 32% in Fort Bend County. The issues are on our side. Guns, Harvey relief, DREAMers, education funding – you get the picture. The GOP is still the GOP of Donald Trump. We have to have our nominees up and down the ballot be able to communicate the issues effectively to the voters and in the process get the E-Board off of our backs. Believe me, every little bit helps. Just saying.

Here is the entire E-Board take: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/At-long-last-Texans-have-real-contests-in-real-12939034.php.

Commentary saw this tweet yesterday:

Fox News‏Verified account @FoxNews 12m12 minutes ago

OPINION: Finally, we get our @NFL back

My immediate reaction: plantation mentality.

Giants Skipper Bruce Bochy of course then with the Padres hit a walk-off dinger in the bottom of the tenth off of ‘Stro Nolan Ryan on July 1, 1985 at Jack Murphy Stadium for a 6-5 win.

We all know that Bochy played for the ‘Stros from 1978-1980.

This kind of tells the story of the ‘Stros through 50 games.

Julia Morales Retweeted

Todd Kalas‏ @RealToddKalas 3h3 hours ago

Through 50 games, the @Astros pitching staff has set a new @MLB mark in the live-ball era (since 1920). HOU’s 126 runs allowed betters the 1968 Indians previous record of 128 runs in first 50 games.

Our next 13 games will be telling. Four at Cleveland, three at Yankee Stadium, four at The Yard with the Red Sox, followed by two with the Mariners also at The Yard.

 

The Giants are in town. Hunter Pence won’t be playing because he is dinged up. How many times was Hunter selected to the NL All Star team as a ‘Stros and as a Giant?

This is from Pulitzer Prize winning Chron columnist Lisa Falkenberg today:

I have to, and I dearly want to, believe (Gov. Greg) Abbott when he talks about taking meaningful action. I want to believe he can rise above his record and the power of special interests. I want to believe that when Abbott looks at the crying, grieving children forever traumatized by the deadly shooting in Santa Fe, he views them not through the lens of a politician up for re-election, but the lens of a father.

“It’s clear that the status quo is unacceptable,” Abbott told reporters in February, in response to a question on the need for gun safety measures.

At the time, shortly after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left 17 dead, Abbott said he supported closing loopholes in federal gun background checks. But what about common sense reforms needed in Texas?

Here is the entire Falkenberg column: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/falkenberg/article/Opinion-Santa-Fe-shooting-should-be-the-tipping-12935782.php.

Commentary would like to think change is coming from Abbott. He would have to say a f-you to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the NRA. We will see.

Gov. Abbott got his preferred opponent last night in former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. He wants to run against her. What that means is hard to say the morning after.

Sheriff Valdez has the issues on her side.   She needs to up her game though.

I don’t think anyone in these parts expected a crushing victory last night by Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in CD 7. Congrats!

Congrats to my pal Richard Cantu on his 261 vote margin win for County School Trustee!

Commentary is hoping Andrew White will stay involved.

The following story just steams me up – period. Here is from the Chron:

Campus administrators broke state law by changing student grades and engaged in other forms of records manipulation at Houston ISD’s Furr High School, where revered principal Bertie Simmons has been in charge for nearly two decades, district officials said Tuesday.

Although HISD officials did not implicate Simmons on Tuesday, the findings appear to spell an ignominious end to her five-decade career in HISD. Simmons’ lawyer said Tuesday that his client has been notified her employment in HISD will soon end. Simmons has been on administrative leave since last October.

In a 189-word statement, HISD officials outlined broad strokes of the eight-month investigation conducted by outside attorneys employed by the district. HISD leaders said Furr High School administrators changed grades to ensure students passed classes, instructed teachers not to assign grades below 50 percent, improperly altered attendance records, and awarded credit to students who did not meet attendance requirements.

Here is the entire read: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/bertie-simmons-houston-hisd-principal-furr-high-12934326.php.

Why does this happen? Why do they do this to our students?

This is just what we need. A grade changing scandal. It is like HISD is saying, “come on TEA, take us over please!” Just plain crazy!

I saw this yesterday:

Clint Walker, who starred as a gentle giant cowboy on the ABC Western “Cheyenne,” died Monday, TMZ reports. He was 90.

Honestly, I didn’t even know he was still around.

He was “Posey” in “The Dirty Dozen.”

That means the only “Dozen” still with us are Jefferson, Jimenez, Lever, Pinkley and Sawyer.

Hunter Pence of course was a NL All Star from the ‘Stros in 2009 and 2011 and from the Giants in 2014.

We are 31-18 with a +107 run differential. Not bad if you ask Commentary.

The Work Continues

The Giants are at The Yard this evening and tomorrow afternoon. How many World Series titles did they win in New York versus how many in San Francisco?

EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY bought a full-page ad that is an open letter to Gov. Greg Abbott in today’s Chron.

On a related note, go vote today and help fill out the lineups for the big game this election season.

All I can say is the work continues. Commentary is talking about the post-Harvey effort because it has to be done. Almost nine months later. Here is this notice from State Rep. Carol Alvarado:

On Tuesday (TODAY), I will convene the Urban Affairs Committee to hear invited testimony as well as public testimony regarding long-term housing needs and related issues resulting from Hurricane Harvey and associated flooding in the Sheldon community. 

You can watch the hearing live HERE

The Urban Affairs Committee will meet at the Sheldon ISD Daniel Ney Administration Building, 11411 C.E. King Parkway, Houston, TX on Tuesday (TODAY), May 22, 2018 at 1:00 P.M.

As they say, just doing her job.

This is a nice gesture. This tweet from yesterday:

TR Sullivan Retweeted

John Blake‏Verified account @RangerBlake 37m37 minutes ago

Rangers will donate the net proceeds of Monday’s and Tuesday’s Texas 2 Split 50/50 Raffle to the Santa Fe Education Foundation in memory of the victims of Friday’s tragedy at Santa Fe High School.

In 2011, after 48 games, the ‘Stros were 10 ½ game behind the first-place team in the NL Central and headed for 106 season losses. In 2013, when we ended up losing 111 games, after 48 games we were 17 games out of first.

I kind of know what Ranger fans are experiencing after 48 games and 12 games back and seeing this written up on MLB.com. Already? See this:

ARLINGTON — The success of the Rangers’ season will not be measured by their won-loss record. General manager Jon Daniels made it clear on Monday that the team’s No. 1 priority will be the continued development of its young players.

So far that has been a mixed bag, and Daniels wants it to be better as the Rangers move forward.

“Obviously, the record is not where we want it to be,” Daniels said. “Some positive signs with our young players, some scuffling a little bit. We said from Day 1, it was critical — the development of these young guys. That has been accelerated by the injuries, but that’s the biggest thing we are going to be looking for.”

The Rangers went into their three-game series against the Yankees with a record of 18-30 and in last place in the American League West, 12 games behind the Astros.

Daniels is not looking to blame the field staff for the Rangers’ poor start, but much of the coaching staff’s evaluation going forward will be based on how the young players develop and improve.

“When we take the approach we took this offseason, and on top of that, you get the number of injuries that we’ve got, I’m not sitting here looking to blame the coaching staff for personnel issues like that,” Daniels said. “I think from a coaching-staff perspective, we constantly talk about the development of our young players, some of [whom] are going well, some of [whom] are not, and that’s got to be our focus.”

The Rangers’ poor start makes it seem obvious that they will be “sellers” as the summer progresses and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline draws closer. Daniels isn’t ready to go there yet, but he understands the mindset.

Here is the entire article : https://www.mlb.com/rangers/news/jon-daniels-focusing-on-young-rangers-growth/c-277698830.

It is going to be a long season up in Arlington.  Or, folks could be wrong, and they could turn things around.

From the Chron:

The Astros released Jon Singleton on Monday night, disseminating a 20-word statement to complete a cataclysmic fall for the power-hitting left handed first baseman once considered the organization’s best prospect.

“The Astros have released minor league first baseman Jon Singleton, effective today,” it read. “The club has no further comment on this.”

Singleton is currently serving a 100-game suspension for his third positive drug test. He is in the final year of a five-year, $10 million extension he signed in 2014.

One of four players acquired by the Astros when they traded Hunter Pence to Philadelphia in 2011, Singleton had just 420 plate appearances in parts of two seasons with the club, hitting 14 home runs and striking out 151 times.

There probably is more to this because they are saying they have no further comment.

The Giants won five World Series Championships in New York and have won three in San Francisco of course.

We are two games behind last season’s pace after 48 games. Now you know it!

 

It Hit Home

I knew it was just a matter of time before a mass shooting hit the H-Town area. I have thought about it many times. That is why I am always checking where the exits are in buildings I am not familiar with. My reaction Friday morning was it was our turn.

As I was fixing to head to Baytown to spend some time with my Dad on that tragic Friday afternoon, I noticed on the flat screen Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in front of a bank of microphones in Santa Fe. I had to watch what these three NRA lackeys were going to spout.

The three must have been briefed beforehand on what the Santa Fe student said about she expected a mass shooting to “eventually” drop into their high school and it did.

They just couldn’t bring themselves to spew the NRA talking points while standing just a few hundred yards from fresh body bags.

Gov. Abbott is apparently hearing the voices of Parkland because he acknowledged “we have to do more than just pray for the victims and their families.” Abbott says he is going get folks together for “swift solutions.” It won’t work if the NRA has veto power over who Abbott has at the table working on the “swift solutions.” Abbott recognizes the electorate is a bit volatile these days and to come out and spew the standard NRA talking points would have been just plain foolish and dumb.

Sen. Cruz on the other hand, facing a possible arse kicking from #BetoForTexas, was preening in front of the cameras, and saying we need to stop this from ever happening again, blah, blah, blah, and make it harder for criminals to purchase blah, blah, blah. It came across as very disingenuous. Cruz has already bought his campaign template and it includes kowtowing to the NRA. He just couldn’t do it standing a few hundred yards from where the victims were still lying because, well you know.

Lt. Gov. Patrick had that moronic and pathetic response on the number of doors, exits, and entrances at schools and my immediate reaction was, fella, you just ran out of excuses. Holding onto the status quo isn’t working. Patrick ended up being the nation’s laughingstock and embarrassment Friday afternoon and evening. Deservedly so and well earned.

Yesterday morning, Patrick outdid himself and said this on ABC This Week: Our teachers are part of our well run militia.” Commentary is wondering if our teachers know this.

Here is from the Chron E-Board yesterday:

These are children, our children. Tears of anguish, frustration and anger are the appropriate response. And once the tears dry, the response must continue to be grim determination — determination to call out craven elected officials who mouth ritualistic murmurings about thoughts and prayers and then do nothing. They’re as clanging gongs and clashing symbols.

Send them home. When their shameful obeisance to the National Rifle Association trumps good sense, voting them out of office is the least we can do to memorialize those youngsters who have lost their lives to senseless gun violence.

The people’s response has to take the lead. Theirs must be a relentless push for measures the whole nation knows will make a difference: requiring background checks for every gun purchase, including those at gun shows and those between private parties; reinstating a nationwide ban on firearms that are nothing less than weapons of war; limiting the capacity of magazine clips; banning “bump stock” devices that convert semi-automatic rifles into weapons that fire with machine-gun lethality.

Here is the entire E-Board take: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Now-it-s-happened-here-Editorial-12926802.php.

On the other end of the class spectrum, J.J. Watt’s response was so J.J. Watt.

On the same end of the class spectrum, ‘Stros Skipper  A.J. Hinch really stood tall Friday evening when he said he wanted “answers” and not “condolences.”

This tweet from NBC about Check Todd kind of confirms what I just said:

TODAY‏Verified account @TODAYshow

1h1 hour ago@chucktodd weighs in on what the Santa Fe school shooting means for the gun debate: “Governor Abbott’s rhetoric was different this time than its been in previous shootings.”

Say what you want, but the Parkland kids have moved the needle quite a bit.

Today’s my Mom’s birthday. I always used to call her and wish her the best.

Today is also my dear friend Julie’s birthday.

No MLB question today.

 

What was the big news in MLB 14 years ago today?

Over the past three decades, Commentary has been involved in passing a few HISD school bond elections. I kind of know what it takes to get bonds approved by the voters. That is why I was kind of somewhat taken aback with what I read on the front page of the Chron this morning. Here is how the article by Jacob Carpenter starts:

Administrators on Thursday recommended Houston ISD seek voter approval for a $1.7 billion capital projects bond in May 2019, charging forward with long-term spending plans even as the district faces uncertainty about its leadership and ability to maintain local control over decision-making.

District leaders said the $1.7 billion bond would finance much-needed rebuilding of 18 existing elementary and middle schools, construction of three new campuses, security upgrades at all 280-plus schools and the purchase of new buses, among other costs. HISD administrators said it was unclear whether the proposed bond package would result in a tax increase, saying they will have a better idea when the Harris County Appraisal District finalizes property values in August.

HISD trustees would have to approve a measure to send the bond referendum to voters, with board members likely making a decision in late 2018 or early 2019. If approved, the bond would be HISD’s first since 2012, when 67 percent of voters backed a $1.89 billion package.

The 2019 proposal, however, could meet more resistance than usual amid ongoing upheaval in the district.

No s_it!

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Amid-tumult-Houston-ISD-leadership-pitches-1-7B-12924023.php.

To get an HISD bond election passed, you basically have to have your house in order. You have to demonstrate sound leadership over at HISD. You have to have a strong superintendent who can effectively communicate the need for school bonds. The Board of Education pretty much needs to be unified. You have to demonstrate that you have been prioritizing spending.   You have to show that you properly spent the bonds from the last bond election. Most importantly, you have to have buy-in from the business community, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

Let’s see where HISD is today.

We are under a threat of a TEA takeover of our school district where the HISD trustees could be replaced by a board of managers.

We don’t have a permanent superintendent, just an acting one.  Can you even name her?

A number of high ranking administrators are jumping ship.

The district is fixing to fire a number of employees because of budget cuts.

We had to add money to the last bond program.

A number of community activists are calling for the resignation of the current Board President.

An HISD trustee has called for the resignation of the current Board President.

We really don’t have a plan to satisfy TEA requirements on fixing the failing schools. Asking for a waiver or an extension isn’t a plan.

You get the picture. Enough said. It is a long way to Tipperary!

Commentary was checking out the HGLBTPC PAC card of endorsed Dem Primary run-off candidates and they have Mike Collier listed for Lieutenant Governor. He won the Dem Primary this past March with 52% of the vote.

I saw this tweet yesterday:

Everytown‏Verified account @Everytown 1d1 day ago

June 1 is National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Participate in #WearOrange Weekend to show the strength of the gun violence prevention movement and honor the lives of those affected by gun violence.

There certainly will be a ton of folks wearing orange at The Yard that first weekend in June when we host the Red Sox.

On May 18, 2004, D-Backs pitcher Randy Johnson tossed a perfecto against The ATL in The ATL’s crib of course. The Big Unit was 40 years old at the time.

This weekend we have a Sunday night game at The Yard against Cleveland that will air on ESPN. The June 3 Sunday night game against the Red Sox at The Yard will also air on ESPN.  Cool!

Vote Early in Person today, please!

Hurricane Politics

The big news in MLB last night was Justin Verlander striking out batter number 2,500. Who will be the next pitcher to reach the 2,500 strikeout milestone?

In 2014, Gov. Greg Abbott won Harris County with 51.4% of the vote. Only a political fool would say he is going to carry Harris County in November. His response to Harvey has been disappointing at best. Here is the latest from Mike Morris and the Chron:

Gov. Greg Abbott blasted the city of Houston for its response to Hurricane Harvey Wednesday, critiquing what he described as a lack of sound financial planning and sluggish progress repairing flooded homes.

The governor’s assessment, which he delivered in two terse letters Wednesday, was prompted by a request Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and 55 other Gulf Coast mayors and county judges sent Abbott on Tuesday, requesting state help meeting the local match for a key federal disaster mitigation program.

And this:

(Harris County Judge Ed) Emmett said he was taken aback by Abbott’s letter to Turner.

“The tone of the governor’s letter is troublesome, and I don’t think it recognizes reality. All of us are merely seeking to speed up recovery and to take the burden off local taxpayers,” Emmett said. “Why that deserves a lecture I don’t know.”

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Abbott-criticizes-Houston-s-Harvey-response-12920659.php.

A couple of things on this. What is going on in the Governor’s brain for responding like this? We are still in response mode in these parts and elected official folks need to be working together.  Why become divisive on this? Why the attacks? Where are you going with this? Who are you mad at?

Secondly, will Judge Emmett tell us if he is going to vote for Gov. Abbott this November? I know, I know. Judge Emmett has a bond election he wants to pass in August and he probably doesn’t want to upset the way far right wing Abbott supporters, but at some point, he kind of owes it to all of us who went through Harvey if he intends to vote for a Governor who has hoarded over a $10 billion plus Rainy Day Fund that could have alleviated some of the misery around here. At some point, Emmett has to fess up and tell us who he is supporting for Governor.

On a related note, as far as this part of the state is concerned, Andrew White has pretty much proven that he would be far much better at going after Gov. Abbott on Abbott’s handling of Harvey. It would not hurt Democrats to have someone who went through the Harvey mess leading the ticket. That’s politics, baby!

On another related note, I wonder how GOPers running countywide here in Harris County are feeling?

Oh yeah, let’s not forget Donald Trump calling Latino immigrants animals.

Bartolo Colon of course is sitting on 2,486 strikeouts so he should be the next to reach 2,500.

We are 28-17 with a 2 game lead in the AL West and the third best record in MLB and only 12-10 at The Yard.  Let that sink in for a moment.